Look real close at the photo below.
A colossal embarrassment.
This ornamental grass – Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ has begged for division for like three years now. And I’ve done nothing but ignore the request.
- It is a monster and the effort required to attack it has been intimidating.
- The effort requires time and time is in short supply these days.
- It is easily hidden from view so the pressure to do something about it has been lacking.
- Blog fodder – content for another post which you are enjoying right now.
But I am better than this.
It is 80% dead at this point and that is unacceptable for a so-called obsessive and neurotic gardener. Especially one who does nothing but wax poetic about the wonders of the ornamental grass.
So I’m calling myself out and asking you to do the same. Call me out on it from time to time. A nudge here and a nudge there.
Cut back on the photos and maybe do some work John.
You must lack the physical strength to pull it off John.
Task #1 for next spring has already been determined.
This is an update to the original Miscanthus Gracillimus post from 5 years ago. I’ve learned and experienced quite a bit more since then and honestly, the photos are a hell of a lot better.
Miscanthus Gracillimus made it on to my top ten ornamental grasses post and has for me personally, remained the most upright Miscanthus residing in my garden today.
Before I share some additional photos and my experience with Miscanthus Gracillimus, here is some information to whet your ornamental grass whistle:
- Like all Miscanthus, it is a warm season grass, so the new foliage doesn’t begin to grow until temps warm up in the spring.
- Gets 6 to 7 feet tall and about 3 to 4 feet wide
- Survives in zones 5-10
- Prefers full sun to bright shade
- Blooms late September until frost; blooms are a reddish bronze
- Deer resistant
- Great as a specimen, background or massed into a hedge
- Stays upright all winter extending it’s architectural interest for three full seasons
- Can be divided in spring before new growth emerges
- It is one of the oldest cultivars of Miscanthus but is still popular today
Some of my photos:
While rounding into shape in summer, it works beautifully as a background/specimen.
In full bloom in September.
Fall color emerging in late October. Great complement to all of the red hues.
And the standard brown/buff in November. This Miscanthus stands at attention all winter even under the most extreme conditions.
An example of its versatility. Here she is in summer, quietly hanging out in the background, minding her business.
And then in fall, she displays fantastic color and completes one of my favorite vignettes in my garden.
Having said all that, I have a dirty little secret. My Miscanthus Gracillimus looked great in bloom this past year.
But a peak behind the curtain tells a different story.
Only about half of the grass emerged from the cut back stems this year and my gardening prowess tells me it is time to divide it. It will be a hell of a job but I’m determined to pull it off. I’m thinking this one grass will become three smaller versions in spring. My hands may fall off or I might throw my back out, but it will be worth it in the end; for my garden’s sake and for great blog fodder.
Each season has its own unique beauty in the garden and dammit, that is why I love this gardening thing so much. It is never dull and in constant motion in a wonderfully subtle way.
With that theme in mind, there are some photo sets below depicting the same section of garden at different times this year. The first photo in each set is from current day. The subsequent photos then move backwards in time throughout the 2014 gardening season.
Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed) in front of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’:
Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’, Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’, Miscanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) and Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’:
Panicum ‘Rots’, Viburnum bracteatum ‘Emerald Lustre’, Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’:
Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’, Purple coneflower, Perovskia (Russian Sage):
Similar plants as listed above but from a different angle:
Barberry, Iris versicolor, Clethra ‘Hummingbird’, Monarda (Bee Balm), etc.:
A little bit of everything:
Looking through Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’ to the aforementioned Joe Pye Weed/Miscanthus combo:
A nice looking ornamental grass – Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ to be exact.
Until you pull back the curtain and see that only the front half of the grass is actually growing.
The blame falls squarely on my underachieving kids as I let them cut down most of the ornamental grasses this past spring.
So your lesson for today – don’t trust kids with power tools, they will only disappoint.
Let’s talk ornamental grasses today, shall we?
Good, glad you are game. Onward.
By far the most consistent ornamental grass for me in terms of size, shape, bloom and winter non toppling over-ness, Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ is again kicking some serious booty, even in July:
You are looking at the best part of Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass) ‘El Dorado’:
But upon closer inspection, not all that great:
I have a bunch of these located all over the property and really none of them are impressing. The best looking one is in half shade so maybe that is the answer. More to come.
I know they are everywhere and similar to ‘El Dorado’ in terms of being rather “blah” (snobby horticultural term in case you haven’t heard it before) but I still like looking at the blooms on my ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grasses from my deck, especially when backlit by the sun in late afternoon:
Another grass I’ve soured on of late is Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’. The overall shape is weak and the bloom count has been small the past two years or so:
Maybe it is time to divide and that will improve things. Sounds like a nice Fall task to me.
And another division from two years ago keeps on keeping on:
Still loving Purple Fountain Grass in containers, especially now that the ladies are blooming:
Aren’t you two beauties (AKA Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’) holding up wonderfully:
And finally, you are looking at my new favorite resting place, now adorned with two Blue Dune Lyme Grass in containers:
Hope you enjoyed.
If you do not like ornamental grasses, it is OK to leave now.
Go on … get outta here.
Are they gone? …. good riddance.
Let’s proceed, shall we?
It’s sort of like Christmas Eve out in the garden right now with the OG blooms about ready to show themselves:
|Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’
Want to know how I know that my lust for ornamental grasses is off the charts? I can capture three blooming grasses in one photo:
|Misacanthus ‘Gracillimus’, Calamagrostis ‘Eldorado’ and Miscanthuis ‘Purpurascens’
This is the second year for my Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’ and so far, color me impressed:
The seed heads on my two different Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) have matured nicely:
|Northern Sea Oats
|Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist’
You can count on an overwhelming amount of coverage on all things ornamental grasses over the next few weeks so brace yourself.
It is that time of year.
The time when the ornamental grasses take a giant leap forward, shake their ample booty and become THE focus in the garden.
Well, they do in my garden at least.
Here is just a sampling of these emerging superstars:
Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Northwind’ when the blooms first appeared:
And now after said blooms transformed into a pinkish hue (love the blue/green blades as well):
Next, we have Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ (yes, I have memorized that spelling):
Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’ behind the same “Rots”:
Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ not yet showing signs of bloom but still stunning in its own way:
Misanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) with blooms just popping out in front of the giant Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’:
Every night, I stare at these Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass) ‘Karl Foerster’ blooms from my deck as they are backlit by the sun. Good times:
And finally, Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) are at their peak, as we speak:
More grass love to come in a future post as they continue to transform with the arrival of autumn.
Strong upright, vertical accent in late June:
Blooms appearing in mid September with the wine-red color greatly welcomed:
Blooms sway in the breeze with the slightest wind:
Great focal point:
As the weather cools, new unique colors emerge in early November:
Still looks damn good in early winter and holds up to the strong winds:
Sweet winter interest: